Exploring IoT Security in Smart Homes

Noah Rue
Smart Home Security
Illustration: © IoT For All

As the world continues to evolve, so does the technology we rely on to make our days easier and more productive. We not only have better computers and mobile devices, but even our appliances are evolving at an exponential rate. Now, we have smart speakers, refrigerators, dolls, security cameras, doorbells, and more, and we can control all of it with our smartphones. This Internet of Things (IoT) not only makes life easier but makes us safer.

When we can control what happens in our homes, we feel protected, and we can keep an eye on suspicious behavior. Unfortunately, hackers can gain control of smart devices when not properly secured and use them against consumers. Let’s talk a bit about how smart devices can secure our homes and ensure that they remain protected.

Connected Devices and Security

When used correctly, smart home devices connected over the Internet of Things can effectively turn your home into a fortress, where no suspicious behavior can occur without the homeowner being notified or otherwise having an immediate solution. There are many smart devices that you can connect to your phone to get that instant security. Smart doorbells allow you to see video evidence of who is at your home and speak to them from inside. If you don’t recognize the visitor and want to keep them from entering, Bluetooth locks can secure your doors with the touch of a button.

Smart security cameras are key for any home that needs protection. With smart apps, the owner of one of these cameras can immediately determine if an intruder is lurking around your property. Some models also include audio that allows you to speak to the individual and warn them if a police presence is on the way. In addition to indoor security cameras, you can also install smartphone-controlled sensors that attach to doors and windows so you can be notified if an intruder tries to enter through any opening.

Technology is evolving by leaps and bounds, and many common household items that we have used in the same way for years are now more advanced than ever. For example, smart garage door openers give you the ability to open and close from anywhere and detect suspicious behavior. Also, light automation allows us to turn on lights instantly with a touch of a button or a voice command to a smart speaker. It is a great option that can deter potential criminals and allow users to see obstacles faster, ideal for elderly homeowners or those with limited vision.

When IoT Devices Are Not Secured

By utilizing smart technology through IoT, consumers can be more protected than ever. However, if the user doesn’t do their part to secure their technology, they could fall victim to cybercrime. Hackers are always a threat to advancing technology, and even though it might seem funny that a criminal would hack your smart thermostat, they are only doing it for one reason, and that is to go through your connected network to get to your smartphone or computer and steal your personal data.

Any data that they get their hands on can be detrimental to the owner. Social security and credit card numbers can be used to take out fraudulent loans to put the owner in bankruptcy. Beyond that, any information, including email addresses, birth dates, and medical histories, can be sold on the black market to other criminals. There is also the threat of ransomware, which allows hackers to control your smart devices until you pay them a sum of money. Imagine being locked out of your house by a criminal living thousands of miles away.

It would be best if you kept your smart devices protected, not only due to personal responsibility but also because smart tech isn’t always as secure as it needs to be. People love new gadgets, and to appease the masses, many smart devices are sent out without the proper security testing, and updates after the fact are also few and far between. While many protections like blockchain could thwart these issues, if the companies don’t take the time to implement these strategies, the issue continues. That is why it often falls on the shoulders of consumers to protect their devices.

Protecting Your Devices

When it comes to protecting your smart home, it all begins at the router, which is essentially the front door of your network. If hackers can determine the name of your router and your password, they can easily make their way in and reach all connected devices. To protect your router, change the name from the model number to something more creative, so it is harder for them to connect it to you. Also, adjust your encryption settings to WPA2 or WPA3, which provide the highest level of security and are harder for the hacker to crack.

Proper passwords are key to protecting your connected network, and every smart device you have should be password-protected. When it comes to passwords, don’t include your last name, your pet, or anything that can be easily learned by hackers. Instead, they should feature a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and the password should be paired with two-factor authentication, which is an additional security measure. The best option is a biometric scan of a fingerprint or an eye, as these are most specific to the user.

Perhaps the most important security measure you can implement is making it a habit to update your devices whenever a new software version becomes available. On top of presenting new features, these new versions often come with updated security patches that will fight against the newest threats. If you believe it has been a while since your latest upgrade, consult the product website for information.        

While IoT has surely made lives easier and more productive, smart devices within these networks are not without their faults. By staying educated on trends and being proactive with security, you can have the nicest gadgets without worrying about intrusions.

Noah Rue
Noah Rue
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't searching out his next great opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the...
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't searching out his next great opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the...